The Kingdom of Heaven is a movie you might want to see if you’re interested in the Crusades. Actually, at almost two hours and thirty minutes, maybe you need to be really interested in the Crusades (or in Orlando Bloom, ladies). Anyway, in a fairly forgettable movie there is one standout scene. Bloom’s character, Balian, a blacksmith-turned-knight, is preparing the people for the defense of Jerusalem against overwhelming enemy forces. As he is doing so, he is asked, “How are we to defend Jerusalem without knights?” (The rest of the knights have all left in not-so-knightly fashion).
Balian looks around and sees a young man who is obviously overwhelmed with all that is going on. He asks him who he is. The young man replies that he is a servant. Balian has him kneel down. He then commands every man capable of fighting to do the same. He then recites this oath for them to follow:
Be without fear in the face of your enemies.
Be brave and upright that God may love thee.
Speak the truth even if it leads to your death.
Safeguard the helpless.
He then commands them to, “Rise a knight.” A witness to the proceedings asks incredulously, “Who do you think you are? Will you alter the world? Does making a man a knight make him a better fighter?”
Balian looks around at the men he has just knighted. There is something in their eyes, the set of their jaws, their demeanor. And he answers, “Yes.” And it is true! Balian’s men fight valiantly and secure a truce that saves the lives of all in Jerusalem. Not only were they called to make a difference but the call itself made a difference!
And history is full of the stories of men and women who were beaten down by circumstances, oppressed by evil, and sure they were fit for nothing more than life’s scrap heap. And along came someone who saw in them something that they had never seen in themselves and called them higher. That someone challenged them to do something and be something they thought beyond their capabilities. And their world changed forever because they were called. They became better because they were knighted. The call made a difference.
Those who belong to Jesus Christ have been knighted for service. As with the first disciples (and all after them), God is able to see things in His knights that they cannot see in themselves and He calls them to respond by faith to what He sees. It’s my conviction that we spend too much time languishing over our limitations (real or perceived), and far too little time listening to the call of God. We spend too much time thinking about our faith and too little time thinking about our God. The result is we stand rationalizing by our burning bushes while God waits to lead through the Red Sea. We miss our call and live as wandering generalities rather than meaningful specifics.
The Olympics now run in two year cycles so that every other year we have either the winter or summer games. At the games there are two groups of people. There will be spectators who have come from all over the world to watch and enjoy the competition. They will be there because they made a personal choice to do so. The second group will be the athletes. They will be there because they have been called to do so. They are there to represent the different countries that have chosen them to be there. As they march in the opening ceremonies you can tell that they regard it as a great honor to do so. The call makes a difference.
Why are you here? The answer for the Christian is that we’re here because we’ve been called by God to represent Him in the world. It is an honor (to say the least), to do so. It’s a call that makes a difference. May each of us “live a life worthy of the call you have received,” (Ephesians 4:1).